Sunday, May 13th
House of Blues Myrtle Beach
4640 Highway 17 S.
Doors: 7 p.m. Show 8 p.m.
$35-82.50 • www.houseofblues.com
In 1993, the five original members of Collective Soul were not even that. They were kids growing up outside of Atlanta in Stockbridge, Georgia, who had a passion for music, though they didn’t necessarily see it as a career. What they were really doing was helping out a friend, frontman and songwriter Ed Roland, who called them together to record a few of his original songs. His intent was to sign with a publishing company, not a record label. But when an area college radio station took hold of the demo that contained “Shine,” their future was written for them.
“We certainly didn’t see Rock Song of the Year 1994 coming,” bassist Will Turpin quips. “Once the commercial station in Orlando picked it up, it was kind of like a snowball going downhill. It wasn’t going to stop, and it was going to get bigger and bigger.”
By the time Atlantic Records signed Collective Soul, Turpin believes any company would have cashed in on the band. “Shine” was well on its way to being a hit, having sold 35,000 on an independent label. The boys were stupefied when “Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid” went gold—little did they know it would achieve double-platinum status. Much less, their true debut, 1995’s “Collective Soul,” reached triple platinum.
Like the startle of shell shock, the band went from a basement recording set-up to scaling the Billboard Hot 100 in a couple of years. “I think it’s hard to predict that kind of success no matter what it is,” Turpin says. “But the way the circumstances came together for us, it was definitely a surprise.”
Collective Soul emerged in a time when America’s grunge scene demanded an uplifting boost—and fans latched onto the band’s progressive sound. The spirited riffs of Joel Kosche and Dean Roland still meld with distinct, coarse vocals and an optimistic message.
“Ed is the primary songwriter and the strength behind the lyrics, which are amazing,” Turpin notes. “There are a lot of songs that we as a band know specifically what Ed was thinking about, even though his style of writing lays it out there where almost anybody can borrow the song for their own personal experiences.”
With a number of records upon Collective Soul’s impressive résumé, the group was able to produce a greatest hits album, “7even Year Itch,” in 2001. By then, they’d already collaborated on a recording with Sir Elton John, and “Heavy” from 1999’s “Dosage” had held a then-record top spot of 15 weeks on the charts. After the release of “7even Year Itch,” Collective Soul parted ways with Atlantic Records to form their own label: El Music Group.
“My goals when we got signed were very short-term,” the musician recalls. “You’re very young; you’re in a rock band—we weren’t egotistical by any means, but we definitely thought we deserved the success of a great rock band. Then you grow and get older, and your perspectives change. I’ve seen a lot of friends who were in as good of bands as Collective Soul or better, and success doesn’t really come for them. And you see maybe there’s a lot more to it than just making great music. There’s timing, and there’s other people you have to be surrounded with to be successful. You become more appreciative of where you are. I’m really fortunate to be able to create music for a living.”
Beginning May 11th in Florida, Collective Soul will embark on a national tour in which they’ll perform “Dosage” in its entirety, as well as a few new tracks. The closest stop to Wilmington is at House of Blues in Myrtle Beach on Sunday, May 13th (though they’ll be at The Fillmore in Charlotte on Tuesday, May 15th, and Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre on Wednesday, May 16th).
It’s rumored that fans believe “Dosage” is the best release of the group’s repertoire. “We all love that album,” Turpin shares. “I gotta be honest—probably, as a band, we were clipping as good as we ever have on that record, as far as recording and creative processes [go].”
As well, Collective Soul will debut brand new songs to live audiences. “Fans will be able to hear the evolution of the music, and they can draw their own conclusions about what it is that they hear,” Turpin says. “But I won’t be able to put a finger on it because I still feel like, energy-wise and creative-wise, I do the same thing I did 20 years ago.”
Turpin and his band mates create by feel. Songs come about naturally; each verse fits and the group can tell. They won’t set out to change their style. “We’ve always been an extremely eclectic band anyway—nobody’s ever been able to peg Collective Soul’s sound,” the bassist explains. “We have so many different styles that we lend from, and I think that will continue in the new stuff. If you hear 12 new songs, you’re gonna hear three or four different styles, and that’s just the way we are. We’re funky; we’re rock; we’re laid-back; we’re all those things.”
The members of Collective Soul are no longer 23. They have wives and children, and focus on spending quality time with those who matter most. Though their lives have morphed and adjusted from what once was, the foundation is still the same. They’re just good ol’ Stockbridge boys in the end.
“A lot has happened in our lives, but I still feel like that young kid—invincible,” Turpin declares. “I think people need to know that we’re all very close. We grew up in the same little town in Georgia. We feel the same way about a lot of things, certainly musically. We are what the word means: We’re a band.”